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Conrail freight trains remembered

By | April 28, 2022

Conrail is Classic Trains' Railroad of the Month for April 2022

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Diesel locomotive with alternating gondola and tank cars

Classic Trains editors are celebrating the history and heritage of Conrail all through April 2022.

Rear of Conrail freight train with trailers on flatcars passing station on electrified trackage

A northbound Conrail piggyback train rolls through Rahway, N.J., in September 1976, just months into Conrail’s tenure. Conrail called such operations TrailVan, or simply TV, trains. J. David Ingles photograph

Rear of Conrail freight train with trailers on flatcars passing station on electrified trackage
Slat-sided livestock cars behind diesel locomotive

A Conrail freight train with a livestock shipment passes through Berea, Ohio, in July 1983. The train is eastbound under former New York Central signal bridge. The two livestock cars are part of a Chicago-Harrisburg, Pa., move, at the time the only remaining livestock move in the U.S. The livestock cars normally ride at the head end of trailer trains. Bill Taylor photograph 

Slat-sided livestock cars behind diesel locomotive
Conrail freight train at left while second train approaches in distance under signal bridge

Conrail freight trains CHEL (Chicago to Elkhart), left, and CJPI (Chicago Junction Railroad to Pittsburgh) approach the Amtrak station at Hammond, Ind., in March 1985, less than 10 years into Conrail’s existence. Photographer’s notes indicate that freight trains held up Amtrak at this time. J. David Ingles photograph

Conrail freight train at left while second train approaches in distance under signal bridge
Conrail freight trains bending around horseshoe curve

An undated publicity photo shows three Conrail freight trains on Pennsylvania’s famous Horseshoe Curve west of Altoona. A variety of freight car types are visible from numerous connecting and fallen flag railroads, including Cotton Belt, Burlington Northern, Southern Pacific, and Pennsylvania. Conrail photograph

Conrail freight trains bending around horseshoe curve
Diesel locomotives on freight train framed under trees

Conrail SD38 6939 and an SD45 begin the push of a mile-plus string of freight cars over the hump (out of sight) at Avon Yard west of Indianapolis in September 1978. Conrail maintained hump yards at Indianapolis and Elkhart, Ind.; Conway and Enola, Penn.; and Selkirk, N.Y. Gary W. Dolzall photograph

Diesel locomotives on freight train framed under trees
Diesel locomotive with trailers under signal bridge

Early morning sun catches RoadRailer train 266 with Conrail C40-8W 6111 north on Norfolk Southern at Danville, Va., in May 1993. The train was operated jointly by NS and Conrail between Harrisburg and Atlanta. Curt Tillotson Jr. photograph

Diesel locomotive with trailers under signal bridge
Diesel locomotives with coal train in treeless cut

Conrail SD50 6809 crests the summit of the Monongahela Railway’s Manor Park Branch on a sunny September 1990 morning. Jointly owned with CSX, Conrail acquired full control of the southwestern Pennsylvania coal route in 1993. Ed Wolfe photograph

Diesel locomotives with coal train in treeless cut
Blue electric locomotive with Conrail freight train under wires

Led by E33 electric locomotive No. 4608, a northward Conrail freight train that just left Amtrak’s parallel Northeast Corridor rolls past Waverly 5 tower in Newark, N.J., in 1979. Paul Carpenito photograph

Blue electric locomotive with Conrail freight train under wires
Conrail freight train on curve along river as seen from above

A Conrail freight train led by U23B 2798 negotiates the graceful curves at Red Rock, Pa., en route to Port Jervis, N.Y., on the former Erie main line in February 1978. Note the open auto racks in the consist. The locomotive, the last of GE’s U-series built, is preserved in Connecticut. J. J. Young Jr. photograph

Conrail freight train on curve along river as seen from above
Diesel locomotive with alternating gondola and tank cars

A Conrail “bottle train” with GP15-1 1669 moves molten metal through Riverdale, Ill., in February 1983. When the Riverdale steel works blast furnace was shut down, it continued to process hot metal brought by train from Burns Harbor, Ind. R. B. Olson photograph

Diesel locomotive with alternating gondola and tank cars

Please enjoy this photo gallery of Conrail freight trains selected from the archives of Kalmbach Media’s David P. Morgan Library.

Conrail served a variety of customers across the railroad’s territory stretching from St. Louis and Chicago east to Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston. Broadly, Conrail freight trains moved coal, steel, trailers and containers, automobiles, and auto parts like any other railroad in the East. But it also had more specialized moves, like hot metal trains between steel mills in northwest Indiana and Chicago, the last livestock movement by a U.S. railroad into the 1980s, and, with partner Norfolk Southern, Triple Crown RoadRailer intermodal trains that operated without flatcars.

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